Immigration bill is not a ‘free pass’
GREELEY – U.S. Rep. Jim Riesberg believes immigrants – undocumented or not – who have been paying taxes and supporting local communities deserve the security and hope the McCain-Kennedy bill could provide. Riesberg, a Democrat, supports the bill because it would give illegal immigrants a chance to become U.S. citizens and the opportunity to work without looking over their shoulders, he said. “It gives them hope, which they don’t have right now,” Riesberg said. “Because right now they have no way to become citizens. They now would have a path to become citizens.”
Riesberg said under today’s laws, very few can even qualify, making the critics’ argument that they “should become citizens” impossible. This legislation would change that.He refuted critics’ claim that it’s an amnesty bill, citing the fines the illegal immigrants would have to pay to become citizens as proof that the bill doesn’t give a free pass to anyone.”It’s not amnesty because by paying that, they are recognizing their wrongdoing,” Riesberg said. “I personally would like to see some of that paid by the employers because they’re the ones providing jobs.”Riesberg said he’s talked to union members who like the legislation.
“One of the things that they liked about it is that it gives certain worker protection, which they didn’t have before,” Riesberg said. “Employers could always hold over their head that they were going to turn them in, and this gives them some of the rights that other employees have.”The criminal background check provision assures that the U.S. won’t become a haven for criminals, he said. Ultimately, Riesberg believes the bill would enable illegal immigrants to become quality community members, he said. Jesse Tijerina, a farm work contractor from Fort Lupton, said the bill must include explicit benefits for the agriculture community to gain support of local farmers. For the illegal immigrant workers, he thinks the legislation sounds great.
“I think it’s good because regardless of what’s going on and regardless of all the programs before, the illegals are still here,” said Tijerina, who has worked in farm labor for 28 years. “We might as well try to work something out where they are here legally, and we can keep track better of them than now.”He scoffs at the notion that illegal immigrants come for the “freebies” when they pay into Social Security and never see that money. He believes that immigrants that want to set roots here will abide by the law and pay the fees to gain their citizenship and, thus, have a chance to prove their value to the community, he said. Vail, Colorado
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